CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Thieves have found a new way to steal the most personal and private information from seniors – all with a Q-Tip.
AARP Virginia along the with the federal government is warning seniors to be leery of anyone offering to swab your cheek or a free DNA test.
“It is one of the more nefarious ones that we have seen,” says Jim Dau, state director for AARP Virginia.
He says the new Medicare and Medicaid scam is disguised as a health screening.
Dau says “you might be going to a state fair, a health fair or come across a kiosk or you might actually get a mailer and it will offer you a chance to get a DNA screening.”
Scammers may even swab your cheek and claim it’s covered by Medicare. All they need is your card info.
But in reality, victims have been duped by the DNA test – with the results of those screening never making it back to the victim.
Even worse, scammers have now made off with a victim’s personal, medical and genetic information.
“They can get access to your very important and very private health records and those are everything…those are the keys to the kingdom,” Dau said.
The scam so concerning, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued a fraud alert with reports of it happening across the country.
In South Carolina, swab scammers were caught working a health fair in Richland County.
Emergency doctor Eric Bunch explains how it worked: “Once they leave, that swab goes into the trash and then they’ll take that information that they got from you and then they’ll use it to charge services to Medicare that weren’t rendered.”
8News learned no healthcare provider will cover DNA testing unless it is ordered by a doctor and deemed medically necessary.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offer these tips:
• If a genetic testing kit is mailed to you, don’t accept it unless it was ordered by your physician. Refuse the delivery or return it to the sender. Keep a record of the sender’s name and the date you returned the items.
• Be suspicious of anyone who offers you free genetic testing and then requests your Medicare number. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.
• A physician that you know and trust should approve any requests for genetic testing.
• Medicare beneficiaries should be cautious of unsolicited requests for their Medicare numbers. If anyone other than your physician’s office requests your Medicare information, do not provide it.
• If you suspect Medicare fraud, contact the HHS OIG Hotline.